Thursday, May 31, 2012

Portuguese podcast

A weekly podcast by Rui Neves of Gulbenkian Foundation in Portugal focusses on Bilbao Syndrome, Alexander Hawkins, and Gannets

Organising trips from Vortex to Groningen and Vilnius

Two great festivals over coming months, where the Vortex fans should get together (perhaps through its Real Ale Group?) If we get a group together for either, then we can pool the booking of hotle and so on.

Zomerjazzfietstour (Groningen)
A lovely festival where you cycle from gig to gig on Bank Holiday Saturday (25th)

Here's a film from 2010. Bicycles can be hired for 10 euros a day from the station. The best way there is probably taking the Dutchflyer via Harwich-Hook of Holland as it's £75 each way overnight and the ticket takes you anywhere in Holland. Also, it's easy to take the bike.

The other festival is in Vilnius in October. The season ticket is still only £24. And you get more than a dozen concerts. Flights around £100 return via Ryanair or Wizzair.

Festival dates : October 11-14, 2012

About Vilnius Jazz Festival :

Founded in 1987, Vilnius Jazz is the oldest annual jazz festival held in Vilnius. It is an exceptional event in Lithuania, providing a broad perspective on contemporary trends in jazz from all over the world. Over the years Vilnius Jazz has earned a reputation of a radical avant-garde festival oriented towards novelty and limit-stretching creativity. The stylistic boundaries of jazz and free improvised music are often crossed and expanded here by offering joint projects with musicians from the academic, ethnic, rock and industrial music backgrounds.
The International Vilnius Jazz Festival is renowned for its creative and ambitious programmes featuring some of the biggest names on the international jazz scene alongside the best of Lithuanian talent. The festival’s hall of fame includes such world-class names as The Zawinul Syndicate (USA), Sonny Simmons-Oliver Lake Quartet (USA), Courtney Pine Group (UK), Billy Cobham Band (USA), Arthur Blythe Quartet (USA), Steve Lacy (USA), Leroy Jenkins (USA), Viacheslav Ganelin (Israel), Otomo Yoshihide (Japan), Fred Frith (UK), Carlos Ward Quartet (USA), Defunkt (USA), Django Bates (UK), Cinematic Orchestra (UK), Iva Bittova (Czech Republic), Myra Melford Quartet (USA), Cuong Vu Trio (USA), Willem Breuker Kollektief (NL),
Kazutoki Umezu (Japan), Marc Ducret Trio (FR) and many others. Many international projects have been organised through close collaboration with international cultural institutions and foundations, such as Goethe Institut, British Council, Swedish Institute, Pro Helvetia, US Arts International and Japan Foundation.

Attracting an audience of around 5000 each year, Vilnius Jazz has played a formative role for several generations of jazz fans. It has also to its credit helped develop local players who have then moved onto performing in other European venues and international jazz groups. Vilnius Jazz is also inextricably linked with the development of a distinctive Vilnius jazz school. Recognised as one of the most important signposts in Eastern Europe, Vilnius Jazz remains devoted to nurturing and promoting the living tradition of improvised music in Lithuania. In 2005, it joined the membership of the Europe Jazz Network.

The Festival usually offers a 3-4 day programme of concerts, workshops and jam sessions featuring up to 10 different groups. The coming 25th edition of the International Vilnius Jazz Festival will be held on 11-14 October.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Venues and door splits

In this month's Jazzwise, Stuart Nicholson has a go at venues who do door splits with the musicians. As ever in such matters, "Up to a point, Lord Copper!"
He makes the implicit assumption that venues who give a share of the door give amounts to musicians which are lower than they would get from fixed fees. Fixed fees are not necessarily higher. If they are then the shortfall in income has to be met somehow.
Of course, I am sitting and involved with a venue that probably does door splits for 60% + of the gigs.
1) If we didn't then the Vortex probably wouldn't be here today. So this is a way that the venue can balance better its costs against its income.
2) It is not always the case that musicians do worse from fixed fees than door splits. I have heard of several cases where musicians do better from getting a good crowd through the door at the Vortex than doing gigs in the foyer of the South Bank or larger venues. Certainly many feel that their fees from many of the smaller venues around the country hardly support their travel and subsistence costs.
If musicians earn low fees from a door split, it's because the audiences are small. Nowadays it has certainly become more and more of a joint promotion between musicians and venues. It's a partnership. I don't really know of many promoters  who work against musicians such as if similar to Harvey Goldsmith, especially who are running jazz venues.
3) It assumes that venues are exploiting musicians. Well, some may think so, but the Vortex isn't exactly full with staff and others who have made millionaires from jazz.
4) Door splits stifle adventurous music. Look at the Vortex's programme this week, for example. Sol6, Mary Halvorson, Evan Parker, Peter Evans, Julian Arguelles. I think this proves that fixed fees don't necessarily help musicians make imaginative music.
Most clubs pay what they can because they are starved of public funding. Stuart's article makes out that they are flush and holding back. If he was to argue that more funding is required to keep this sector going, then I'd agree. It's been a major point made to me by many touring musicians that the number of gigs between festivals at weekends are declining. Clubs and similar are a threatened species. Only heap extra costs on them by giving them adequate support.
Musicians are realists. They perform where they do out of choice/need. As long as the deal with them is transparent, then musicians can make their choices. Reading the interviews with the likes of Mike Westbrook and Evan Parker in Ian Carr's "Music Outside", one realises that, as the musicians decided to make the music that they do by their own choice, they had to work out how to survive.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Room for rent during Olympics

Chambre a louer chez un particulier
Quartier de Notting Hill/Queensway
150pds la nuit
Salle de bain privee.
Lumineux et spacieux
Contact: Saveria au 07876401811
Room to rent for the Olympics
Notting Hill neighborhood/ Queensway
Private bathroom
Spacious and bright flat
Contact: Saveria at 07876401811

Monday, May 21, 2012

Jazz Shuttle

The Jazz Shuttle scheme has been set up by SACEM (the French PRS), Afijma (the French jazz festival organisation) with support from a few venues/festivals in the UK(e.g Vortex, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, London Jazz Festival, Manchester). British and French musicians need to share the stage in new music and/or new up-and-coming line-ups.

At Coutances last week, the seventh gig of the first tour was shown off. Tweedledee (photo above) is where the two dynamic collectives, Loop in London and Coax from Paris, get together under the leadership of Robin Fincker, who's becoming more French again by the day. They've played a few festivals so far, including Cheltenham (with a review from Jazzmann), Banlieues Bleues and the Vortex. Whether there's a London Jazz Festival gig remains unclear, but there will hopefully be a recording made later in the year.

Two new projects were agreed for late 2012/2013:

Barbacana - Kit Downes, James Allsopp, Sylvain Darrifourcq (of Q) and Adrien Dennefeld (of Ozma). Previous gig reviewed here. A London gig will take place at the Vortex on 16 November (double bill with Kit's quintet) and a new album will appear on Babel around then.

Robin Fincker, Alcyona Mick, Paul Clarvis, Vincent Courtois (cello), Daniel Erdmann (tenor saxophone or Das Kapital). It will focus in particularly on the music of Vincent Courtois. He already appears on the new Blink double album., and his trio the Mediums has played a number of times already in France. So it builds on an existing partnership. And all the better for that. They'll probably start at the Vortex late in 2012.

More projects on the way for this scheme, I'm sure. It's great that the French have taken the bull by the horns to get this on the road. It's based on the optimism and energy of the jazz scenes here and in France. The collaborations have been growing again over the past couple of years. Hans Koller is doing a quartet involving François Theberge, while Denis Badault's quartet involves Tom Arthurs. Tom has also just been on tour with Benoît Delbecq in Canada. Of course, there's also Trio Libero in which Andy Sheppard uses bass player Michel Benita and Bojan Z's trio for the past few years has had the Acoustic Ladyland rhythm section of Seb Rochford and Ruth Goller. Within the improv scene, of course, the interactions have been steady and strong.  Too many to mention there.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Oltremare Quartet

A lot of excellent Jazz musicians are graduates from the Guildhall School of Music including the composer, double bass player and leader of the Oltremare Quartet Andrea Di Biase. In fact while at the Guildhall Di Base met another Guildhall graduate Bruno Heinen, creator of the Dialogues Trio which included Di Biase and Jon Scott (drummer for the Oltremare Quartet). It was a collaboration that resulted in the Twinkle Twinkle album released by Babel label 2011 and also featured Julian Siegal on sax and clarinet. Other members of the Oltremare Quartet include Mike Chillingworth (alto sax) and Antiono Zambrini (piano). The Quartet’s first album Uncommon Nonsense, whose compositions were written by Di Biase and Antonio Zambrini also on babel label, is a meeting of two musical worlds one rooted in the melodic style of Italian composers such as Nino Rota and the other in the harmonic and rhythmic style of British composers such as Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor.
The Oltremare Quartet will launch their album Uncommon Nonsense at the Vortex Jazz club 28th May

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Review of Indigo Kid

Nach seiner Rückkehr in die reale Welt der Musik, nach dem Jazz-Studium am Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, formierte Dan Messore das Quartett Indigo Kid. An seiner Seite der international renommierte Saxofonist Iain Ballamy (Loose Tubes), Bassist Tim Harries (Bill Bruford's Earthworks) und Drummer Gethin Jones. Kleine Bögen verbinden eine äußerst zurückhaltende Musik, die sich überwiegend in balladesker Form bemerkbar macht. Dan Messores Gitarre bewegt sich tastend und vorsichtig hin zu einer gemäßigten Fusionmusik, verzichtet auf scharfe Grooves und offenbart lyrische Seiten. Musikalisch wirken die Stücke bis auf den letzten Ton auskomponiert, manchmal dringen kleine Seufzer aus der Folkecke durch, manchmal erinnern die „schönen“ Klänge an Ry Cooder oder Bill Frisell.

From Westzeit

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Re-discover Billy Jenkins

This week was rediscover Billy Jenkins week - although for me it was more discover Billy Jenkins. My introduction to Jenkins was the album Entertainment USA where the tracks are named after people who had significant cultural or political (good and bad) impact in the USA, and globally for that matter. It is not an homage but more symbolic of a Pax Americana. There is even a track named after the demonic Charles Manson who became a cultural icon for the criminally insane in the 1960s. And, Manson did actually write songs while he was in jail, which apparently were recorded by Guns N Roses and Marilyn Manson. On Jenkin's other albums I was amused by the unromantic titles he gave his music - names like Donkey Droppings, Pointless Adornments, Coke Cans in Yer Garden and so on... The lyrics evoke a poetry about the everyday and his sound is unapologetically eclectic and hybrid - a sort of  Bakhtinian subversion of the aesthetics of music.




                All these can be found on Bandcamp

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Alexander Hawkins review, Financial Times

The Oxford-based pianist/composer’s wayward harmonies, crosscurrent rhythms and jazz/classical influences conjure the experimental jazz of the mid-50s. Opening track “Ologbo” counterpoints firm and speedy walking bass with half-tempo plucked cello. Orphy Robinson’s fluent marimba adds to the forward momentum, “Tatum Totem III” wobbles elliptically over unsettling guitar; and “Ahab” firms up a drunken opening melody into cascading free-jazz piano. Hawkins scores his sextet ambitiously. The collective improv is rich with ideas, and moments of brilliance compensate for the occasional lull.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Karl Lueger Ring

They're going to get rid of it as a name.

"Let me decide who is a Jew." That was one of his immortal phrases of this ant-semite. They nearly got rid of Julius Tandler Platz once. Julius Tandler was a great liberal Jewish doctor who taught my father. That would have been a travesty.

Dalston as the new 52nd Street

Last night in Dalston:
4 jazz/improvised gigs within 200 yards of each other.
Vortex: Vijay Iyer
Cafe Oto: Okkyung Lee/Steve Noble
Servants Jazz Quarters: Ben Davis/Zac Gvi/Ruth Goller/Seb Rochford
Ridley Road Bar: Kristian Borring

Dalston has become the new 52nd Street. What a change from when the Vortex came into the area in 2005, when it was still a jazz desert. I remember Jack Massarik asking if he could be lent a bodyguard if he came from the station and Kerstan Mackness being shocked that it was just a 20 minute bus ride from Tottenham Court Road.
People seem to forget the Vortex's pivotal role. All power to Cafe Oto too, but it's a mistake to think that they started this off. We were, for all our faults, the brave ones, because we blindly trusted Adam Hart and Hackney Co-operative Developments.

Film about Vortex

For The Love Of Jazz from David de la Peña on Vimeo.

Made by Lotte and Dave.

Thanks to both for movingly showing about the club in such a short time.

Playlists for Babel Babble.

A catch up from a few recent editions

1 May
Frifot - Bohushallingar from Sluring
Deller Consort - O Vos Omnes from Chant Gregorien
Tomasz Stanko - Lontano
Majjid Bekkas - Boulila from Makenba
Oslo 13 - Procession from Off Balance
Iain Ballamy - Hermetology from Acme
Hermeto Pascoal - Magimani Sagei from Hermeto Pascoal e Grupo
Nicloae Nemes - Ardeleana de Dol
James Tenney - Dialogue (1963)
Q - Coiffeur part 1 from Que Moi
Blink - Country Life from Twice
Jeff Williams - Fez from Another Time

24 April

Dubliners - Manchester Rambler
Ornette Coleman - Ramblin'
Bruno Heinen - Jumping Rocks from Twinkle Twinkle
Small Faces - Itchycoo Park from April Fool
(Itchycoo Park was an open space next to Christ Church Spitalfields. Or was it actually in Ilford and the area in Spitalfields was Itchy Park?
JOhn Wright - The Frost Is All Over from Munnharpas Verden
Twelves - Mr Zero from The Adding Machine
Thelonious Monk - Pannonica from The Essential Sonny Rollins
Eddie Parker - Mystery In Three from Everything You Do To Me
(Tribute to Pete Saberton.
Davey Graham - Tristano from Anthology 1961-2007
Taraf Hodac - Joc en Bota from Wild Sounds From Transylvania
Astor Piazzola - En 3 x 4